Sketcher Consulting

Association Leaders: Losing members?

 Are your membership numbers decreasing? Not sure what to do? There are several factors that could influence the decline of membership.

Associations were introduced as far back at the 1800s where individuals would come together to discuss mutual concerns. The earliest association on record was the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, in 1768, formed by a group of merchants: which still exists today. In Canada the Halifax Board of Trade was founded in 1750, 17 years before the formal Chamber of Commerce in New York.  

Associations have been around forever, they have changed and evolved but their initial intention has never wavered; to help groups of people leverage similar issues and opportunities.

The average age of an association member is approximately 50+. So does the association model need to be updated?

If we consider this concept, it would serve us well to get back to the basics. The intention of associations was to help, protect, and leverage groups of similar interests. So if the goal is the same, maybe the approach needs to change? Are you using an approach that is 50+ years old, because it is ‘tried, tested and true?”

Factors to consider:

1.       Value Proposition: is your “value of membership” clear to your multiple audiences? (Baby Boomers, Generation, X and Y). Do you have a value proposition for these different groups?

2.       Communication Styles/Tools: are your communication plans all encompassing? Are your plans flexible to change as needed depending on trends?

3.       Technology: are your systems current on how you operate and deliver membership value to your various audiences?

4.       The Members Voice: do you ask, listen and implement member’s feedback?

5.       Knowledge is Power: does everyone on your staff, volunteers and board, understand and fully support the association benefits?


 These five questions will provide you will a different filter when you look at your association model and is a good place to start the conversation with your board and staff.

 Contact us, we would be more than happy to help you with this conversation and process.



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